Columbus is now tied atop the Eastern Conference with Philadelphia after a slender win over visiting Portland.
The game's only goal came after a cross from Robbie Rogers was met by Chad Marshall's head and banged off the post. The rebound came to Eddie Gaven, who poked home the winner just over 10 minutes from time.
The goal ended a 259-minute streak without a goal for Columbus and was enough to see the club reach 31 points, bringing it level with the Philadelphia. The Union has played two fewer matches in the league.
Columbus and Portland both have midweek friendlies before returning to Major League Soccer action next weekend with the Timbers hosting Toronto FC and Columbus traveling to Real Salt lake.